Food & Drink

Mrs.Tate’s “Old and Tried” Orange Cake

Photograph copyright © 2006 Andy Ryan

Photograph copyright © 2006 Andy Ryan

From the authors:

We found this recipe as we browsed through a pile of cookbooks we had bought in central Massachusetts. It literally fell into our laps. We were intrigued by the simple little recipe and the reference to “old and tried.” This delicate all-natural cake, flavored with the zest and juice of an orange, is very “Southern,” and we still wonder how it made it all the way to New England. We’ll never know!

Mrs.Tate’s “Old and Tried” Orange Cake

Makes 10 slices



  • 2 cups (300 g) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups (440 g) sugar, sifted
  • ½ cup (120 ml) water
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) orange juice
  • ¼ cup (60 g) butter, melted
  • 4 egg whites


  • 1½ cups (330 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) orange juice, as needed
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt


  1. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Coat an 8-cup (20 cm × 8 cm) tube pan with vegetable spray or butter. Cut a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to line the bottom of the pan. Insert the liner, coat it with vegetable spray, and dust the pan with flour.
  2. To make the cake: Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Beat sugar and water in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Add orange zest and juice. Add sifted dry ingredients and combine until mixture is smooth. Add butter.
  4. Place egg whites in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until stiff. Fold egg whites into batter.
  5. Pour batter into tube pan. Bake approximately 45 minutes, or until a tester inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool on rack for 20 minutes before removing from pan. Cake will have pulled away from the sides of the pan.
  6. To make the orange glaze: Mix together confectioners’ sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and salt to a glaze consistency. Slip a sheet of wax paper under rack to catch drips. Poke tiny holes in top of cake with a cake tester and liberally spoon the glaze over the cake. Let glaze harden before serving. Store under cake dome or loosely wrapped in wax paper at room temperature.

Heirloom Baking With the Brass SistersHeirloom Baking With the Brass Sisters
by Marilynn Brass and Sheila Brass

We all have fond memories of a favorite dessert our grandmother or mother used to bake. It’s these dishes that give us comfort in times of stress, help us celebrate special occasions, and remind us of the person who used to bake for us those many years ago.

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